There are many truths I have learned over the years from working with more than 10,000 attorneys across the country. When it comes to business development for law firms, none are more important than the truths I have learned about referrals.
Referrals are like gold to attorneys, but just like real gold, you have to put some work into digging for them. If you understand the truths I have learned about referrals, it should make your job easier in cultivating them:
Truth #1: People Make Referrals to Build Social Capital.
Most people enjoy making referrals to their friends and associates as a way of building social capital. If you truly want to build a referral-based law firm, then you need to develop a habit of referring your clients and contacts to other professionals. It must be reciprocal to work long-term. When you refer a client to another professional, they feel more inclined to refer one of their clients to you. This becomes a give and take process. The more referral relationships you develop among your professional associates, the easier it will be for your practice to flourish from referral business.
Truth #2: Mitigating Risk is Important.
All referrals involve some risk – if someone sends you a referral and it turns our poorly, chances are you won’t receive too many other referrals. Attorneys who count on referrals for business development need to take necessary steps to mitigate this risk with clear communication, setting expectations from the start, ongoing client education and stellar follow-up. This risk goes both ways. If you refer one of your clients to a professional associate and it doesn’t go well, then it reflects poorly on you. Don’t make referrals lightly; ensure that the professional associate is capable of handling the case.
Truth #3: People Refer Great Experiences.
People who have had great experiences with a product or service tend to refer it to their friends and colleagues. This is why cultivating a culture of great client service is a must for gaining more referrals. How can you create a “VIP” experience for each client and referral that walks in your door?
While a lot of referrals can come from a referral network or a professional associate, clients also have the ability to spread your name. It is important to remember that people will tell friends and family about a bad experience before they will brag about a positive one. In order to keep your positive service top of the mind, make sure that you keep past and current clients up to date on your practice, awards and services. If a friend comes to them, they may remember reading your newsletter about a recent case or award and be more inclined to recall their own positive experience with you.
Truth #4: Referrals Require Trust.
Even if someone raves to a friend about you, that referral is likely to conduct a credibility search for you on the Internet. If the referral can’t find good content, reviews or social network participation, they will be less likely to proceed with contacting you. You need to manage your online image. Make sure to regularly check sites with client reviews. If someone posts a negative review, address it immediately. Don’t let a bad review turn away potential clients.
Also, make sure that clients can easily find you. Make your LinkedIn profile public, so they can look over your endorsements, your honors and your work experience. Make sure that you claim any attorney directory pages, so that it has accurate information. Clients should be able to contact you from any web page.
Truth #5: Referrals Require a System.
Attorneys need to create a referral strategy that includes a systematic approach to educating referral sources about what a good referral looks like and how to make it. This includes keeping all clients and professional associates current with your practice. Make sure that they are on your newsletter list. If you write an article about your practice area, send it out to everyone.
Referrals are the lifeblood of many law practices, and building a good referral program takes a proven process.
Stephen Fairley unveils the 4 Myths That Keep Attorneys from Building a Referral-Based Practice in his new free report.
Read and discover:
- How to determine the best source for your referrals
- How to explain your ideal target market to a referral source
- How to get referrals from other attorneys
- Whether online directories are a good referral source
- How to network effectively
- And much, much more!